Teams Who Pose the Greatest Threat to Nationals' World Series Hopes
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Arguably the best team in the regular season in 2012, the Nationals are ready to make a deep push into the playoffs, but several other teams have that same goal.
While Washingotn has made a number of solid moves in the offseason, including the signings of outfielder Denard Span and reliever Rafael Soriano, other teams have made equally impressive moves.
These include teams in both the National League and American League, so if the Nationals are able to go where they've never gone before, they're opponent will likely be just as tough as the St. Louis Cardinals were in the National League Division Series.
These are the teams who pose the greatest threat to the Nationals on their quest to a World Series championship in 2013.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are poised to make a deep run into the playoffs this season, especially after the acquisition of starting pitcher Zack Greinke in the offseason.
Harry How/Getty Images
While the Dodgers missed the postseason last year for the third year in a row, they are still in a solid position to not only make it into the playoffs in 2013, but also make a deep run for the World Series title.
Greinke and Clayton Kershaw will make a solid one-two punch at the top of the Dodgers' starting rotation, as Greinke finished the year with a 15-5 record and a 3.48 ERA.
If Los Angeles wants to get over the hump they've faced the past few seasons, they'll need their offense to get going, especially with names in their lineup such as Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford.
In 2012, the Dodgers batted .252 as a team, and scored an average of 3.93 runs per game. If the offense and the pitching staff of LA can click at the same time, this team will surely be dangerous in the regular season and the playoffs.
Cincinnati Reds' pitcher Johnny Cueto had a career year in 2012, finishing with a 19-9 record and a 2.78 ERA.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The Cincinnati Reds hope to rebound from a year in which they lost in the National League Division Series to the eventual World Series champions San Francisco Giants, the Reds look ready to win the National League Central Division for the third time in four years.
Johnny Cueto had his best year ever last season, finishing with a 19-9 record and a 2.78 ERA. In addition to Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Mat Latos and Homer Bailey each had 12 or more wins.
The combination of starting and relief pitching made the Reds one of the toughest teams to score on in the league, as they allowed the fewest combined runs of any team in the MLB, 588. That works out to only 3.63 runs per game.
Aroldis Chapman threw the majority of the saves for Cincinnati last season, 38, and the club had 56 saves overall, a league best.
The Reds improved their offense during the offseason, acquiring both Shin-Soo Choo through trade, and outfielder Ryan Ludwick through free agency.
Cincinnati acquired Choo from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Drew Stubbs. Last season, Choo drove in 67 runs on a .283 batting average.
Ludwick will bring a veteran presence to the club, as well as his 26 home runs and 80 RBI from last season.
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants are bringing back many of the pieces that helped them to a World Series title in 2012.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The defending World Series champions San Francisco Giants could be the biggest threat to the Nationals this year, given they have won two championship rings in the past three seasons.
On top of bringing back aces Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong, the Giants made several signings in the offseason that prove they are ready to get right back at it in 2013.
San Francisco re-signed outfielder Angel Pagan, who had 56 RBI, 26 stolen bases and .288 batting average. They re-signed Marco Scutaro, who they acquired last season from the Colorado Rockies, and reliever Jeremy Affeldt.
With both the Giants and Rockies last season, Scutaro put up career highs in RBI, 74, and batting average, .306.
Affeldt also proved to be a valuable asset to the Giants, appearing in 67 games, only giving up 23 earned runs and finishing the season with a 1.263 WHIP.
Keep in mind that the Giants still have catcher Buster Posey, the reigning NL MVP.
Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels strengthened their already tough lineup in the offseason with the acquisition of free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton.
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
While the Los Angeles Angels' first year with Albert Pujols wasn't all they wanted it to be, the club hopes 2013 will be a different story, with the addition of free agent Josh Hamilton, formerly of the Texas Rangers.
Los Angeles also traded with the Atlanta Braves for pitcher Tommy Hanson, who finished last season with a 13-10 record and 4.48 ERA.
Last season, with Pujols and outfielder Mike Trout, the Angels were the best in the majors in batting average, .274, and runs per game, 4.73.
Any team will surely fear those numbers, especially after the addition of Hamilton.
Despite getting swept in the World Series last season, the Detoriot Tigers still are one of the top teams in the MLB.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
If the Angels don't make it to the World Series this year, it is likely that the Detroit Tigers will be back for the second year in a row.
Despite getting swept by the San Francisco Giants in the World Series last year, the Tigers are still the team to beat in the American League.
Detroit singed free agent outfielder Torii Hunter, who put up impressive numbers last season. The veteran hit 12 homers and drove in 92 runs, and finished the year with a .313 batting average.
Hunter will bring depth to a lineup that already features Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Austin Jackson.
And, as always, the Tigers will be lead by starting pitcher Justin Verlander, who followed up his MVP season in 2011 with a 17-8 record and 2.64 ERA.
There isn't much behind Verlander in the rotation though, so Detroit will mainly be relying on their offense to get them deep into October.